June 14 has always been a day to celebrate in our family. For us it began June 14, 1939 when Tom's parents married. Dad used to look around the family seated at the dinner table and, with a proud smile, say: "Just think, I started all this." Mom and Dad are both gone now, but we always thank God, especially on their anniversary, for their lives, their marriage and the influence they had on all who knew them. Their love for each other and for their family has been an inspiration to us all.
In 1996 on June 14 our first grandchild was born. What a typical family day that was! Tom, Marty and I drove to south Mississippi to be with Tommy and Elizabeth for Jacob's birth. Liz's mom was there, most of Tommy's youth group and various friends. That was the last anniversary Mom and Dad celebrated together. She died right before Christmas from complications with Alztheimer's. Our birthday celebration yesterday looked a lot different from that first one eleven years ago. Then, everything stopped and focused on the birth. Yesterday, everything continued and the celebration came late, after all the normal things of a summer day were done. Tom might have described the day as resembling a Chinese fire drill--his terminology of the confusion of everybody going in different directions at the same time. Tommy and Liz had to shop. Each took a different child with them to "help." All the gifts ended up at our house for me to wrap. Drew had a T-ball game at 6:30 so Liz, Sarah, Tom and Drew went there. Tommy, Jacob and Meredith came here to cook on our grill. Jacob kept Meredith entertained by pushing her up and down the hall in my wheel chair. I thought he was being extraordinarily patitent. Finally, about 8:30 we were ready to assemble at Tommy's for Jacob's request of smoked salmon and baked potato. Jake's other grandparents could not be present, but were there in spirit; Marty couldn't be here, but called to talk just to Jake; new friends have been added to the crowd and the youth group of 1996 has been changed to the one of 2007 and some were present. Maybe the biggest change of all are the three younger siblings who have joined the family and who have almost as much fun as the birthday boy himself. This morning I get tired just thinking about yesterday, but I'm smiling all the while, thanking God for Jacob and for allowing us to be here to be a part of his life.
Just as June 14 has been a day of beginnings, we will also remember it as a day of closure. At Arlington Memorial Cemetery yesterday morning, the ashes of a dear aunt were laid to rest beside her husband (my mother's brother). Marty and her husband Kevin drove up from Raleigh both to represent our family and also because of the close relationship Marty enjoyed with them when she was a student in Winston Salem. They were her family away from home--very special to us all.
June 14 is a vivid reminder of the cycle of life. God gives; God takes away. He gives us the gift of memory to keep our loved ones forever fresh and alive in our hearts. I don't know about you, but it seems we spend more and more time "remembering who and when." Remembering makes me grateful and it makes my heart smile.